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Getting boostered and Mattea goes for number 20: In The News for May 2

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 2 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Canadian Mattea Roach appears in an episode of Jeopardy! in a handout photo. Roach stands to hit another milestone if she extends her win streak in tonight's episode. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jeopardy Productions, Inc. **MANDATORY CREDIT**

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 2 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Banin Hassan says there is only one reason she would consider getting another shot of a COVID-19 vaccine to boost her first two doses.

"If they make it mandatory and restrict activities or travel from my life again, I would consider it 'cause I love to travel," says the Hamilton-based consultant, who is 27.

"Other than that, there isn't anything that would change my mind."

Canadian government data shows young adults lag other age groups in getting boosted. About 35 per cent of people between 18 and 29 have received a third dose. That goes up to 42 per cent for 30- to 39-year-olds. On average, 72 per cent of Canadians 40 and older have received theirs.

A Calgary-based doctor who has studied vaccine hesitancy says he is not surprised young adults are behind.

"Even before the booster, with the second and the first dose, we did see much lower uptake in the 25 (group) compared to the 65-plus community," says Dr. Jia Hu, who leads a group that advises on how to increase uptake.

Hu is the CEO of 19 to Zero, made up of doctors, nurses, economists and other experts, who aim to help governments, companies and communities across Canada build trust in vaccines.

He says he "strongly, strongly, strongly" recommends all Canadians get boosted because protection from two doses wanes after about six months "and the booster gets you right back."

Hu adds, however, that while booster uptake in young adults is too low, he doesn't believe 18- to 29-year-olds with COVID-19 will overwhelm hospitals.


Also this ...

OTTAWA — Canada's military watchdog is calling on the Armed Forces to better accommodate troops with disabled children and other exceptional family circumstances, warning some are being forced to choose between their loved ones and their careers.

While around one in four members of the Canadian Armed Forces are required to relocate every year due to training or operational needs, those with special family needs are allowed to apply for exemptions.

A compassionate posting or status is intended to provide flexibility to members who have special family circumstances, such as children with disabilities or older parents who need support.

But in a new report, military ombudsman Gregory Lick says the military’s current approach to deciding whether troops qualify for such compassionate postings is riddled with shortcomings and problems that need to be addressed.

Those include unclear criteria around who can qualify, a lack of transparency around how such requests are approved or rejected and even pressure on some troops not to apply in the first place.  

“Most CAF members and family members interviewed believed the needs of their family were secondary to the needs of the CAF,” reads the report. “Many reported feeling marginalized or stigmatized when requesting … a compassionate posting.”


And this ...

MONTREAL — Quebec's wildlife protection agency says a polar bear that was spotted Saturday on the province's Gaspé peninsula has been killed. 

Sylvain Marois, southeast district commander at the agency, says the bear was found in a wooded area near the town of Madeleine-Centre, Que., later that day. 

The provincial police lifted the warning alert early Sunday for residents, who were asked to stay indoors until the animal was captured. 

Marois says the polar bear was killed for public safety reasons, as being outside his natural environment could have made the animal more aggressive. 

The event marks the first time a polar bear has been spotted on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.

Marois says it's not clear how the bear got to the peninsula, but believes he might have swum or taken advantage of some ice.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — The White House has announced that Jill Biden will meet with Ukrainian refugees during a trip to Romania and Slovakia later this week. 

The U.S. first lady will visit both eastern European countries during a five-day trip that starts Thursday. 

Romania and Slovakia share borders with Ukraine. 

Ukraine has spent the past two months fighting off Russia's military invasion. 

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says nearly 5.5 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. 

Jill Biden will also meet with U.S. service members, U.S. Embassy personnel, humanitarian aid workers and educators.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — Ukrainian civilians holed up inside a steel plant in Mariupol under siege by Russian forces nearly two months began evacuating over the weekend and people sheltering elsewhere in the city were to leave Monday, local officials said.

Video posted online Sunday by Ukrainian forces showed elderly women and mothers with small children climbing over a steep pile of rubble from the sprawling Azovstal steel plant and eventually boarding a bus.

More than 100 civilians were expected to arrive in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday.

“Today, for the first time in all the days of the war, this vitally needed (humanitarian) corridor has started working,” Zelenskyy said in a pre-recorded address published on his Telegram messaging channel.

There were worries about the evacuees' safety. People fleeing Russian-occupied areas in the past have said their vehicles were fired on, and Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Russian forces of shelling agreed-upon evacuation routes.

A Ukrainian defender of the steel plant urged groups like the U.N. and the Red Cross to ensure the safety of those being evacuated. Sviatoslav Palamar, deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, told The Associated Press in an interview that there should be guarantees from “a third party -- politicians, world leaders -- who will cooperate to negotiate with Russians to extract us from here.”

Another of the plant’s defenders said Russian forces resumed shelling the plant Sunday as soon as the civilians were evacuated.

Denys Shlega, commander of the 12th Operational Brigade of Ukraine’s National Guard, said in a televised interview Sunday night that several hundred civilians are still trapped alongside nearly 500 wounded soldiers and “numerous” dead bodies.

“Several dozen small children are still in the bunkers underneath the plant,” Shlega said.

As many as 100,000 people may still be in Mariupol, including an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters beneath the sprawling, Soviet-era steel plant — the only part of the city not occupied by the Russians.


In entertainment ...

Canadian "Jeopardy!" super-champ Mattea Roach stands to hit another milestone if she extends her win streak in tonight's episode.

The 23-year-old tutor would move to Number 5 on the list of longest runs on the TV quiz show.

She's currently tied for the sixth spot with 19 consecutive wins.

Roach has the longest streak of any Canadian to appear on the show.

She's so far raked in US$460,184, giving her the sixth highest winnings in regular-season play.

Roach, who lives in Toronto and was raised in Halifax, has also earned a spot in the show's tournament of champions, set to air in the fall.


Did you see this?

MONTREAL — Emotions ran high in Montreal on Sunday as thousands of Guy Lafleur's fans gathered to pay tribute to the Montreal Canadiens legend.

The almost three-hour-long lineup to enter the Bell Centre, the team's current home, created a sense of camaraderie among fans of all ages — most of them were proudly wearing Lafleur's jersey. 

Greggory Laberge, 55, flew in from Denver, Colorado, and exchanged laughs with the stranger waiting in front of him as he prepared to pay his respects to his hockey idol. 

"He was our hero … We all wanted to be Guy Lafleur on the rink," said Laberge, who is originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. 

Laberge tearfully said Lafleur's on-ice example sent a powerful message to boys like him — go out and conquer the world.

"It's the end of an era," he added. 

Montrealer Alain Silverstone stood next to Laberge, nodding in agreement. 

"He was a superstar, on ice and off the ice," Silverstone said. "He’s going to be missed, but his legacy will always live on."

Lafleur's body lay in state on Sunday, the first of two days on which people were invited to pay their respects to the Hockey Hall of Famer.  

Lafleur, who helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1973, and then again four more times from 1976 to 1979, died on April 22 at the age of 70 following a battle with lung cancer.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2022

The Canadian Press